Monday, February 28, 2011

The Fantasy Trip: Too Much Of A Good Thing?


While most of you were busy playing Dungeons and Dragons as youngsters, my go-to games were of the microgame variety.

Microgames like Melee, from Metagaming -- a rules-light, man-to-man (as well as beast and monster) fantasy combat system. Or Wizard, Metagaming's follow-on game, where you played a magic-user.

We played the heck out of those microgames during our lunch breaks, while attending middle-school back in the late 70's/early 80's. The entire Microgames line was touted and renowned for its' speed of play, and most of the early microgames had significant replay value.



Metagaming's line of microgames were reasonably popular during that company's heyday. Metagaming published at least five editions of Melee, before it was finally retired in favour of Advanced Melee. Pictured above (from my microgame collection) are the first, fifth and second editions of the game. The cover illustrations for those Melee editions are by Liz Danforth, Roger Stine and Clark Bradley respectively. I always preferred the Clark Bradley cover illustration, on the right. Not because it was in color, but because it captured the adventurer-party spirit of role-playing, while still retaining a look, unique to The Fantasy Trip, and apart from the Dungeons and Dragons art being promulgated at the time.

You may be asking why I could possibly need three copies of Melee. Hello, different artwork! :D

The Melee boxed set with the Stine cover is in the centre. I was never a big fan of his Melee and Wizard covers, nor of his covers for Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard and In The Labyrinth. Yes, with those covers, you knew what game you were playing, but the hyper-realism and plasticity of the figures in his illustrations was simply not my cup of tea.



As for owning four copies of Wizard, three of which are exactly the same, I really have no excuse. In my defense, you can never have too much of a good thing, and those three feature Clark Bradley's cover art.

12 comments:

Gratuitous Saxon Violence said...

Aren't you worried Will Mistreta is going to complain about gargoyle-penis showing up on his front page?

http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2011/01/beautiful-witch-amazon.html

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Gratuitous Saxon Violence said...
Aren't you worried Will Mistreta is going to complain about gargoyle-penis showing up on his front page?

:D

Will's not an equal-opportunity nudity proponent then?

To this day, I cannot figure out what possible function Clark Bradley's Gargoyle-penis would serve.

At least the Gargoyle won't need Viagra to keep it rock-hard.

redwald said...

I'm envious. Not of the Gargoyle; I don't have Gargoyle envy. No of your collection. I still have yet to even see, let alone, hold or play Melee, Advanced or otherwise. Same for Wizard, and TFT.

No one in my group owned it. I don't think it was available in our local (UK) gamestore, and in the early eighties if it wasn't available in our local gamestore it wasn't available. So we were just taunted by cool adds for it in White Dwarf.

Sean Robson said...

Melee and Wizard were my favourite microgames and I lost an entire summer to fighting arena duels by myself on my bedroom floor.

Me, I love the Stine covers - very evocative and gripping.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

redwald said...
I'm envious of your collection. I still have yet to even see, let alone, hold or play Melee, Advanced or otherwise. Same for Wizard, and TFT.

My FLGS had a rack of games, all in those familiar plastic pouches. Even at 3.95, it was a stretch to buy them with my meager allowance.

I hated that they switched to the boxes instead of the plastic pouches. The pouches were convenient for stuffing the game in your pocket on the way to school.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Sean Robson said...
Melee and Wizard were my favourite microgames and I lost an entire summer to fighting arena duels by myself on my bedroom floor.

Me, I love the Stine covers - very evocative and gripping.


Some people really loved that style of artwork. I don't recall if Stine did any of the interior artwork.

Akrasia said...

I never cease to be amazed that the 'Melee' and 'Wizard' games completely passed me by in the early 1980s. I did get a couple of MicroGames ('Ogre' and 'Car Wars', if I recall correctly), but not these. Pity.

The Happy Whisk said...

Hello, different artwork. Hahahaha. That's great stuff and a fantastic reason.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Akrasia said...
I never cease to be amazed that the 'Melee' and 'Wizard' games completely passed me by in the early 1980s. I did get a couple of MicroGames ('Ogre' and 'Car Wars', if I recall correctly), but not these. Pity.

Ogre and Car Wars were great games. They suffered from the same problem as many other classic microgames, too many add-ons. A bit like movie sequelitis.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

The Happy Whisk said...
Hello, different artwork. Hahahaha. That's great stuff and a fantastic reason.

I love this early art, as there was no one artistic director enforcing some narrow vision of the look of the game. Each artist brought something new to the table.

Scott Pasha said...

Melee (the gargoyle edition) was my gateway drug. Ordered it from Metagaming after seeing an ad in my Dad's Analog Magazine.

My copies of Wizard were in constant play with about 7 or 8 guys in my school. It's nice to see acknowledgment of other Old School games. I quickly played BD&D but my early exposure to TFT made me more susceptible to non-level, non-AC, non-alignment games such as Runequest, Traveler etc.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Scott Pasha said...
Melee (the gargoyle edition) was my gateway drug. Ordered it from Metagaming after seeing an ad in my Dad's Analog Magazine.

That's neat that it was being advertised in Analog Magazine. I only ever remember the Dragon Magazine adverts. DO you have a copy of Analog with the advert?